What's absurd is tolerance for acts of torture

President Bush's response to Amnesty International's report criticizing U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay was to characterize it as "absurd" ("'Gulag' charge absurd, Bush says," June 1).

What is absurd is this administration's penchant for flouting the international rule of law, detaining individuals without charges, trial or access to due process. What is patently absurd is the U.S. interrogation and detention policies and practices that condone torture and mistreatment of detainees.

What is absurd and indeed outrageous is the Bush administration's failure to undertake a full independent investigation, and that reports on human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram and other facilities holding detainees remain classified and out of the public domain.

If President Bush is serious about freedom and human dignity, he should recommit his administration to the rule of law and human rights.

Amnesty International continues to call on the Bush administration to end all secret and incommunicado detentions, establish a fully independent commission of inquiry into all allegations of torture, mistreatment, arbitrary detentions and "disappearances" and bring to justice anyone responsible for authorizing or committing human rights violations.

Torture is not an American value, and those who condone and encourage such heinous acts must be held accountable.

Folabi Olagbaju


The writer is director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of Amnesty International U.S.A.

An arrogant attack on rights advocates

To no one's surprise, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have dismissed as "absurd" and offensive the recent report by Amnesty International criticizing U.S. handling of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay ("'Gulag' charge absurd, Bush says," June 1).

This is a perfect illustration of the attitude that has so gravely undermined our country's image and moral standing.

I doubt that the conditions at Guantanamo rank with those in the world's worst prisons. But to deny that human rights violations have occurred and to assail those who would dare criticize the administration reveals a breathtaking level of arrogance.

Jonathan Jensen


How shallow and uninformed does Vice President Dick Cheney think the American public is?

Mr. Cheney has the arrogance and the hypocrisy to say that he is offended by the Amnesty International study that documents prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

But he certainly knows that prisoner abuse has been business as usual in the current wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been very common in all recent wars.

And who is more trustworthy? Amnesty International, a nongovernmental, humanitarian organization that has been respected for decades, or a man who has been known to love secrecy and reveal as little as possible?

What I think Mr. Cheney is most offended by is the truth.

John Oliver


Call to 'club' speaker crosses the line

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer's call for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to "club" state House Speaker Michael E. Busch is totally out of line ("Schaefer tells Ehrlich to get tough to gain slots," June 2).

Mr. Busch passed a reasonable slots bill in the House of Delegates by one vote, and Mr. Ehrlich refused to back it. So now Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Schaefer want to blame everything on Mr. Busch because they don't have a workable plan of their own.

Mr. Ehrlich is not looking to solve problems, just to blame others and constantly run for re-election. Mr. Schaefer should retire this year; he is way past his prime and is no longer helping Maryland grow and prosper.

Mr. Busch is the only statewide leader who is truly working to make Maryland better for all citizens, while Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Schaefer work for millionaires such as Joseph A. De Francis and his Canadian cronies at Magna Entertainment Corp.

Roger Fitzgerald


Trash may scare the tourists away

Last Saturday, I spent some time walking from the Inner Harbor to Fells Point. I could not help notice that the canals are just filled with trash.

Baltimore is getting some great publicity ("Charm City on globe's Top 10," May 27). But I think a major cleanup is necessary. Even near the Inner Harbor, there is floating trash everywhere.

Nothing turns off people, including tourists, faster than seeing all the filth in the water.

Carol McGrath


Saving the habitat of people, animals

I believe it is my duty as a citizen to read a daily newspaper. However, it gets harder and harder for me to get through some of the contorted lines of reasoning I find there each day.

I was shocked, for example, at the mea culpa by Newsweek in the face of government criticism when the Bush administration has never really apologized for its deceptions, mistakes, miscalculations or whatever we want to call them regarding the war in Iraq.

But after reading "Balto. County deer problem gains attention" (May 31), I just had to put the paper down and take a walk to clear my mind.

How incredible was the comment by County Councilman T. Bryan McIntire blaming deer overpopulation on the government? He said: "In some ways the culprits in this are governments themselves. Government properties are the prime breeding ground and playgrounds for these deer."

I live along the Gunpowder Park and thank God everyday that some official had the good sense to preserve this land for people and other animals who are fast losing natural habitat in a world of indiscriminate, greedy development.

Too bad Teddy Roosevelt didn't foresee how preserved wildlands would come to disrupt the flower beds of suburbia.

Kathy Tunney


Jewish students need place to pray

The letter "Building a chapel for handful of Jews" (May 31) raised questions about whether the U.S. Naval Academy needs a Jewish chapel because its Jewish enrollment is less than 2 percent of the undergraduate population.

But regardless of enrollment at the academy, Jews are not comfortable praying in a place in which symbols of a different religion are displayed.

Jews should be able to attend services in a congenial atmosphere on a regular basis.

No one should expect Christians or Muslims to pray in an uncomfortable environment. Why should Jews?

Peggy K. Wolf


The writer is president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

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